Conroy readies new laws to curb NBN competitors

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Conroy readies new laws to curb NBN competitors

Brings potential "cherry-pickers" into line.

The Federal Government will shortly introduce draft laws that compel any telco that builds a new fibre network (or upgrades an existing one) to meet the technical and open access standards of the proposed national broadband network.

The proposed new laws represent acceptance on a significant recommendation from the $25 million NBN implementation study prepared by McKinsey & Co and KPMG.

If passed, the laws would make NBN Co the sole fibre network operator nationally, enshrining in law that no company may build or operate a network that competes directly with NBN Co for customers.

The NBN implementation study raised concerns that "carriers other than NBN Co might construct fixed-line superfast access networks (such as Fibre to the Node, DOCSIS 3.0 or competing FTTP networks) only in high-income and low-cost, high-density areas and then undercut NBN Co's average price due to the lack of any need to subsidise operations in higher-cost areas."
The study recommended that the Government force offenders to provide "open and equivalent access" on their networks or face financial penalties.

A spokesman for the Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told iTnews that the Government "will shortly introduce legislation regarding any new or upgraded fibre networks.

"The legislation will ensure any new or upgraded networks will have to meet NBN standards and offer a wholesale service on an open and non-discriminatory basis," the spokesman said.

"These arrangements will ensure all future networks will support effective retail level competition and deliver NBN-consistent outcomes for everyone."

The news came as iTnews raised concerns that the construction of a private fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network in Brisbane announced last week could create future difficulties for NBN Co.

The Government appears to be taking the stance that the Brisbane Council project will dovetail into the NBN, and that NBN Co will not be forced to duplicate the network with its own fibre in the future.

"As long as the Government’s requirements are met there should be no need for overbuild," a spokesman for Conroy said.

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